Q: I’m currently house-hunting, and aside from the obvious defects, what are some red flags I should be looking out for while checking out potential new homes?
A: When looking for a new home, it’s important to be familiar with potential signs of defects and disrepair. Here, we’ve compiled a list of 10 red flags to watch for in a new home.
- Doors that don’t close completely
If the doors of the house you’re viewing don’t quite meet the jambs, you’re potentially looking at a sign of major structural damage. The house may have settled, which means there are problems with its foundation. If the door is made of wood, it can also mean the wood has warped, which likely indicates a moisture issue. In either case, these aren’t problems you want to endure.
- A musty smell
The nose knows. When a house has a distinctly musty smell, you can assume there is mold present. Inhaling any kind of mold spores can lead to respiratory problems, headaches, skin conditions and more. The house won’t fare too much better with mold. The wet spores can lead to destroyed drywall and ceilings and necessitate costly repairs.
- An up-and-coming neighborhood
Describing a neighborhood as up-and-coming may seem like a positive way to sell a house, but it can also mean the neighborhood is still developing. Setting down roots in a newly formed community means risking the chance that it doesn’t quite turn out the way you expect or hope. It can also mean dealing with lots of construction in the neighborhood as new homes are built.
- A saggy ceiling
When checking out a house, look up. If the ceiling sags, you may be looking at a leaky roof, an internal plumbing issue or an insect infestation.
- Overpowering air fresheners
If you’re hit by an overpowering scent of air fresheners or diffusers when you walk into a house, beware. The strong smells may be strategically placed to cover up for something else, like pet-stained carpets or mold. Ask to see the house again at another time, without any artificial scents being used so you can see what it really smells like.
- Selling “as is”
If a home is listed “as is,” be prepared for issues. The seller is openly admitting they don’t want to fix any existing problems in their home. Look out for these defects, or ask the seller to point them out to you so you know what you’ll be dealing with before you decide to go ahead.
- Poor ventilation
If the house seems humid and stuffy, that’s a red flag. It likely indicates poor ventilation which does not allow the hot air to escape. This can lead to moisture issues, which in turn can lead to mold and decay.
- Substandard shingles
If the shingles on the house you’re viewing are peeling, cracked or curling, the roof is probably nearing the end of its life. Replacing it can be incredibly expensive, and it’s not something you want to deal with right after moving into a new home.
- Sloping floors
In many homes, the floors are slightly out of level due to normal settling. If you feel like you’re walking downhill in the living room, though, that’s a problem. Noticeable sloping can be indicative of a foundational problem, broken floor joists or rotted support beams. If you do notice extreme sloping in a home, walk away. If you love everything else about the home, you can have a structural engineer tell you why it’s sloping and how much it’ll cost to fix the underlying issue.
- Below market price
If a house is priced well below market value, there’s likely a reason it’s so cheap. Houses priced below market value tend to have big structural issues the owner does not plan to fix before selling. If you fall in love with an under-priced house, be sure to have it thoroughly inspected and to get a general idea of what it’ll cost to make it livable.
Finding your dream home isn’t easy. Look out for the red flags described here to be sure there are no big surprises after moving day.
TikTok Inspo: Can you sell us a red-flag home? Describe a listing in a short video, using as many of these red flags as you can.